Date of Completion
Environmental Science (ENVS)
A geographical information system (GIS) is a tool for mapping, presenting, and analyzing spatial data on multiple planes. GIS is often used to create predictive models that can pinpoint locations of certain criteria, but it can also be used to understand the relationships between points on these planes. As ecology is the study of interactions between biotic and abiotic factors, GIS is a valuable instrument for studying the interactions within ecological systems with respect to space, time, and scale. For example, the chemical ecology of ant-homoptera mutualisms was mapped using GIS. Diversity of sugars was found to vary widely between specific locations within the study site using HPLC-RID (High Performance Liquid Chromatography - Refractive Index Detector), suggesting varying types of interactions within the same species. A visual geographic mosaic of coevolution was then generated using GIS. In the future, GIS will be applied to the ecology of vector diseases. A detected sexual dimorphism of the Chagas-carrying triatomine bug will be analyzed in the spatial context of several biotic and abiotic factors. Understanding where this dimorphism does and does not exist will allow for a more comprehensive understanding of this organism’s life history strategy and, therefore, control of the disease. Thus, GIS is a powerful tool for evaluating dynamic and varied relationships within an ecosystem.
Alvarez, Karina, "GIS as a Tool for Modeling Ecological Relationships" (2017). Honors Thesis. 142.